It wasn’t exactly a rip-roaring laugh fest on this week’s episode of The Leftovers, “Guest,” but there were a few lighter and more hopeful moments, as the episode — like the season’s third — turned its focus on one character. In the third episode, it was Reverend Matt Jamison, and in “Guest,” it was his sister, Nora Durst (Carrie Coon), the second-most likable character on the show after Reverend Matt.
“Guest” essentially took us through Nora’s epiphany, from a life in which she refused to let go of her departed family members to her eventual meeting with Holy Wayne in New York City, who — it turned out — really did have the ability to take away the pain. But it wasn’t a mystical ability or anything. The man just knows how to give really, really great hugs, and he takes Paypal.
Nora had been going through the motions of her old life for the past three years. She continued to buy groceries for her departed kids, and continued to act as though she were eating meals with them. The news that Matt gave her about her husband — who had been sleeping with the kids’ preschool teacher — seemed to come almost as a relief to Nora. It allowed her, in a way, to at least let go of her husband, and in her divorce, she appeared to feel a sense of liberation. That led her to spontaneously ask Kevin to run off to Miami with her for the weekend, only to be gently rebuffed. “F**k your daughter!” Awkward.
Instead, Nora went to her conference in New York, and we found out a little more about her job. Insurance companies refuse to pay benefits for the departed, and her company at least offers them some money, if they answer a bunch of painfully personal questions, which her company is using in an attempt to find a pattern between all those departed (no luck in that department yet, so it seems, though I think we can rule out Frosted Flakes). Of course, others think there’s more to it, and that Nora’s company is paying out money to silence people so that they don’t reveal the reality of the situation, which they think has something to do with a weapon that has the ability to target human matter and leave almost no residue. (I don’t know that there’s anything to that, but — as we saw last week, with the government basically incinerating the bodies of cult members — there’s definitely a government conspiracy/cover-up going on.)